Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God's Strategy for Spiritual Victory - Power of the Cross

Numbers 21:34-35 But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.” 35So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was no remnant left him; and they possessed his land.

A New Generation that had to win two battles
The Israelites had been wandering in the Desert of the Sinai Penninsula.  They had rebelled against God, and God consigned them to 40 years of wandering.  The original generation that God had brought out of Egypt under Moses' leadership had died off, leaving a whole new generation of Israelites.  The former generation is recorded from Numbers 1-19, with forty years of unrecorded time lying in between chapters 19 and 20. 

The New Generation, some 40 years later, were on the verge of entry into the Promised Land of Canaan.  But before they could enter, two strong enemies stood in their way.  They not only would have to defeat Sihon King of the Amorites, a people who had been in that area for centuries, but the Giant King Og of Bashan, who may have been as tall as Goliath! (compare Joshua 3:11) 

Not only would the Israelites have to defeat physical enemies, but the internal strife and rebellion of their heart.  God's victories for His people entails a very specific strategy.  As we look at the wider context of Numbers 21:6-39, we can see God preparing his people for these battles, and how it was He was ordaining a strategy for their victory, as well as a spiritual strategy for us as Christians.

Power of Forgiveness in the Brazen Serpent, Picturing the Cross
Back in Numbers 21:5-7 we read - "The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”  6The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people." 

If these people were going to survive to even fight those two Kings in battle, they had to first survive and be forgiven.  God provided such a remedy.  He had Moses fashion a serpent out of Bronze and place it upon a pole, so that all who looked upon it would be saved - having physical life. (Numbers 21:8-9)  John 3:14-15 recounts this scene with these words: 14“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life."  For us to have spiritual victory, we need the power of forgiveness and the cross to look to by faith, so that we can have eternal life. 

Power for the basis for victory, how the Cross is the source of the post-conversion Christian walk
The cross is not only the basis for the beginning of New Life in Christ, but it is also the source of ongoing victory life in the post-conversion Christian walk.  Too often Christians think that the cross was only something they needed to consider in order to be saved - which is true. (1 Corinthians 2:2; Ephesians 1:7)  However the cross is so much more than just the means of salvation - it is also the tool for sanctification.

Consider the Holy Spirit's words in Hebrews 12:1-3 "1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. "

Those Israelites in Numbers 21 needed to be healed of their snake bite in order to be prepared to fight the military battles against Kings Sihon of Heshbon and Og of Bashan.  They needed a soundly provided resource of physical life and vitality to move from where they were into the dry river beds of Zered, just South of these Kings. 

If God had not provided the revelation to Moses to put up that Brazen serpent, no one would had survived.  If God had not sent Jesus to put Himself upon the cross, no one would have the basis for Eternal life nor power to live the Christian life.  The cross is the grounds for victory.  It is where we look to.  When we look to it, we see it stained with blood, reminding us that our salvation has been paid for.  We also see it barren, reminding us that the Savior is Alive and well, ever representing us and ready to strengthen us in battle.